"The whole sound aesthetic changes to a super reverb laden sound with tons of feedback. It is almost undecipherable what is going guitar-wise, and I guess this is exactly what is intended. Someone must have had some fun with his pedal board, jamming his guitar into the guitar cab"
Sometimes there are records that come very much out of leftfield and HELPLESS (yes it’s all capital letters) managed to deliver just that. Hailing from the UK this three-piece noise outfit just released their new record Caged In Gold via Churchroad Records, and boy does it deliver. Chaotic and noisy hardcore with some extreme metal elements that pretty much worships bands like GAZA/ Cult Leader, Ed Gein and all the super chaotic mathcore bands.
The Opener Wraiths Of Memory starts with a hissing guitar-amp which is just the perfect precursor of what’s to come over the next 28 minutes. Firing away with a barrage of blast-beats, a super thick and organic sound and some of the nastiest riffs that you will hear this year. You just can’t get any room to breathe. What an opener!
The following track The Empty Gesture just takes this and adds some double-kick parts and a more diverse rhythmic feel to it. Going from mid-tempo to punk-beats in a heartbeat, there is an overall super unpleasant and restless tone cemented in here, and you definitely should check if you just received a new haircut. Only 2 songs in and you already know where this ship is sailing.
But soon after that it gets a bit more accessible, not that any of this is easy listening per se, changing it up with maybe the first very catchy riff towards the end of Suppression. Just when you thought this band only knows how to crash a train at full speed into a building, they diversify what they are doing. This keeps the whole thing fresh and exciting rather than just having the same thing regurgitated over the span of an entire record, otherwise it can feel tiring at some point.
Another sunlight would fit very well on one of the earlier Converge records! Almost a straight up hardcore song with up-tempo parts and riffs and maybe the most dramatic sounding chord progression of the entire record. Towards the end this song it all gets very atmospheric, and leaves some room to breath after the onslaught that has been unleashed up until now. That drawn out ending that almost borders in sludge territory is paving the way for what is to follow in Single File.
The whole sound aesthetic changes to a super reverb laden sound with tons of feedback. It is almost undecipherable what is going guitar-wise, and I guess this is exactly what is intended. Someone must have had some fun with his pedal board, jamming his guitar into the guitar cab. This entire track gives the feel that contemporary black metal bands like Plebaian Grandstand or newer Deathspell Omega omit. This is the perfect midpoint for this record and feels very relieving after 4 songs of sheer terror.
The tempo then slowly starts to build up again with maybe the most melodic song this record has to offer. Time Worship is there to pick you up from the pit that the previous song just buried you in to let you wallow in despair. While still not a happy song by any means, the change in mood and tempo is just the perfect contrast.
The Kurt Ballou style riffing with hammer-on’s and pull off’s is all over the next song. There is some excellent and diverse songwriting on display in this track, and its sounds like something Converge hasn’t written themselves in the last 10 years! Again, a testament to HELPLESS, that they take the best parts of extreme and chaotic music from the last decade to incorporate them into their own bastard of noise.
Simulacrum starts out very slow before erupting in maybe the most chaotic part the record has to offer. Full of odd time signatures, hectic riffs and full of panic chords, there’s not much to add to this as it really shows this band at their peak. I could write essays on how much I admire their influences, but I leave that off for another time.
Up until this point it should be pretty established that these guys must love GAZA, as The Great Silence would have fitted very nicely on any of their records. If you are like me, and miss this band a lot this song is 100% for you. The ending of this track is very drawn out and would be the exact fit for I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die. Just the best possible way to end a record that violent.
This may not be the most diverse record out there but what it lacks in diversity, it has in violence and anger. If you are like me and a full-on fan of bands that just don’t let up, and also if you are a mega fan of GAZA (RIP) this record is for you. If you expect more of a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs you are best advised to look somewhere else. To me this record is everything I want to hear in that type of music, and I hope HELPLESS will stick around much longer and grace us with their super chaotic and complex mix of metal and hardcore.